Dozens gather at church to learn about region's humanitarian crisis
By Brian Haas
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
December 8, 2008
Niemat Ahmadi recalled being attacked in broad daylight in her hometown in western Sudan.
"A masked man grabbed my scarf from behind and started choking me," Ahmadi said. "I struggled with him. I screamed for help, but nobody did anything."
Ahmadi escaped her attacker. She escaped her village. And she escaped Darfur, after what she said were government-sponsored assassination attempts on her life in retaliation for her aiding women and children suffering there.
Ahmadi, a women's rights activist with the Save Darfur Coalition, spoke to about 50 people at St. Gregory's Episcopal Church on Sunday afternoon, imploring them to take action in light of an ongoing humanitarian crisis.
The United Nations estimates more than 300,000 people from three ethnic groups in the region have been murdered by the Sudanese government and an allied militia known as the janjaweed. Nearly 3 million Sudanese were forced from their homes and live in refugee camps. In addition, women and girls are threatened daily by rape.
"The female went from being the most secure person in our society to the most vulnerable," Ahmadi said.
Rosanna Gatens, director of the Florida Atlantic University Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education, said that as the 60th anniversary of the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights approaches Wednesday, not enough has been done to further its mission.
"We have not acted in a concerted way to stop the genocide in Darfur," Gatens said. "We not only hope and we not only pray, but we expect and demand that the genocide will stop now."
For information about the Save Darfur Coalition, go to www.savedarfur.org.